All of us have spheres of influence. As each sphere shrinks, it represents a greater level of closeness with those inside the sphere. Some of us are open books, spilling to larger spheres without shame, while others share their most intimate secrets with only a few people.
Kobe Bryant would be the latter.
An unrivaled competitor, Bryant isn’t bashful about embracing his villain role. He thrives on it. Brings out the Black Mamba. Slithers through defenders, to find an open look, and hits it to put a hopeful team away.
It’s what makes Kobe Bryant one of the all-time greats. He’s genuine about being mean. The final chapter in an era of pro hoops, when not all stars were friends.
Last month Kobe spoke to another all-time great guard in an ice bath in Miami. That guard was three-time champion Dwyane Wade, who like Kobe has seen Father Time wear on his once lithe frame.
It was a perfect chance for Kobe to tell someone he respects his secret.
For Kobe, three years older and a lot more miles on his knees, Time has diminished him even more. Wade can still partly get open, while Kobe launches off-footed threes, one after the other, because he can’t find an open look anywhere else.
It’s been difficult to watch. I’m sure for Wade as much as fans. Seeing a player like Kobe Bryant succumb to being average, is tormenting. It reminds us of our mortality. That no matter who are what we are, we all lose to Time.
But it sure must have been something. An intimate conversation between two of the top three guards in the history of hoops. Tired knees, aching bones. Fading glories flashing through their minds.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports